The New York Times | With Sudan’s Revolution in the Balance, Darfur Moves Center Stage

KHARTOUM, Sudan — When the first winds of a revolution blew across Sudan last winter, threatening to upend decades of corrupt and destructive rule, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir needed to find a scapegoat. He got Ayob Omer.

Mr. Omer, a 28-year-old veterinary student from Darfur, was scooped up by intelligence thugs outside his university dorm in Khartoum on Dec. 22, days after the first anti-government protest. He was spirited away to a safehouse where he said he was interrogated, tortured with electricity and, after a few days, forced to sit before a camera and read a prepared statement.

“I participated in the protests,” he said in a recording later broadcast on state television. “I was carrying a bag and a knife.”

His ordeal was part of a propaganda drive orchestrated by Mr. al-Bashir’s security services to blame the revolt on saboteurs from Darfur, the western region where up to 300,000 people have died since 2003 in a government-sponsored campaign to subdue it through pillage, murder and rape. The state intelligence service claimed that Mr. Omer, along with five other Darfuri dissidents who were also forced to appear on TV, had been trained by Israel

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